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The Life of an RA

Published: September 7, 2021 Author: Isabella Pennese

Sallu Timbo arrived on campus three weeks early to train and prepare for new students to move into the residence halls. As an OHIO Resident Assistant (RA), Timbo is responsible for guiding dozens of Bobcats through their early days on campus.

“Our mock incident situation is the most exciting training session we have,” Timbo said. “First-year RAs practice responding in all the possible situations they may need to handle with Senior Resident Assistants (SRAs) acting them out.”

Housing and Residence Life employs 264 student team members – a combination of RAs and SRAs. Training includes teamwork, relationship building, and comradery exercises that aim to develop valuable connections with campus partners and learn critical information to support residents.

This year’s training was more important than ever because of how many new staff members had not yet lived on campus themselves due to the pandemic. Because of the ever-changing state of COVID protocols this year, for the first time the training was held in a hybrid model – small staff team groups met in-person and speakers presented virtually.

“The goal was to provide a more comprehensive, engaging, and community-specific training experience while keeping our staff safe,” said Kim Hoover, director of Residence Life.

During training week, student staff prepared the building for move-in by putting up bulletin boards, crafting door decorations, and making sure all the rooms were move-in ready. Being an RA isn’t all work, RAs enjoy the many opportunities they get to connect with others on campus.

RA Life 2

“My favorite part about being an employee for housing is getting to meet new people,” said Cassie Everhart, senior RA. “I've had the opportunity to work with so many individuals on staff that I would have never met on campus otherwise.”

Now that residents are moved into the halls, the first few weeks as an RA are spent getting to know the individual residents in their floor sections through meetings and in-person events such as movie nights, karaoke, and potlucks.

While residents will still wear masks indoors, RAs have planned as many in-person events as they can while keeping their residence halls safe. Giving students the opportunity to attend events and interact with one another helps establish camaraderie and creates a supportive and engaging environment.

“This year I am looking forward to connecting with residents and building a community with them,” said Hunter Renner, a second-year RA. “Many of these residents haven't spent much, if any, time on campus. I think this will connect everyone.”

Throughout the semester, an RA attends staff meetings as well as one-on-one meetings with their supervisors. They also work on-call one or two times a week, meaning they must be available throughout the night in case a resident needs support. Spending time with their residents and coaching them through college, identity, and life transitions, that’s the most important aspect of life as an RA.

“I like to sit in the lobbies for a few hours each week so that if residents need to talk, they can see I am there,” said Renner. “Especially as a first-year student, I know how nerve-wracking it can be to come to school.”

For all the training, preparation, time, and support that RAs devote to campus residents, they are also students themselves. It is a challenging and rewarding balance that many former student staff members credit for setting them up for a successful life beyond OHIO. Are you interested in becoming an RA?

Learn more about the position on the Housing and Residence Life website. https://www.ohio.edu/housing/ra-recruitment